Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ya gotta know when to hold em...know when to throw them..

After chatting with a new full timing lady I met recently the dilemma of do you keep some of your stuff or make a clean break of everything?  There's many points of view on this issue.

In her case she has rented a small (5x5) storage locker and has kept some of the furniture that was handmade by her father.  She wants to have these things when they get off the road and into a stationary home again.  I don't own anything that has any emotional pull for me. Luckily my cousin loves antiques and family history and has willingly taken everything old I have that was passed down.  It's nice knowing someone will be using and enjoying these pieces.

However, I do have a couple of pieces of Amish made furniture that I really like and wonder if I should hang on to for dressers and storage for the apartment we will someday have.  Yes, I enjoy them, but do I really want to pay to store them for I don't know how long? More than likely I will sell these and see what happens later down the road.

Some friends have suggested we rent the house for a year or two until we get this out of our system.  I think they believe we have gone insane as we embrace a somewhat alternative lifestyle.  They may be right, but as they listed off the things they need to do to their house and all the paid labor they've hired to do the things they no longer can (or want to) do...I just smiled and really felt good about our decision.

My notice came up for my website hosting and I replied to let it go.  I've not been good about keeping up my website anyway and I do believe I feel another blog coming on for that purpose.  Between the blogs and Facebook there are so many great FREE ways to promote yourself, I just can't see maintaining a website any more.  

I will also let go of my business account at my small home bank at the end of the year and the credit card service that goes with it after this years shows are done.  I will find a more national bank and some other mobile way of dealing with credit card purchases at shows.  There are so many changes coming up this year!

Long Live the Queen of Change

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Heading back

Most everything was packed already anyway, the sky was gray and Left Brain got cheated out of golfing once again by the drizzle so we looked at each other and said "Let's just go!"  This was followed by a flurry of frenzied activity as we wrestled stuff quickly into the car and canned ham for the trip back.  She Devil slept through most of our personal storm and was scooped up and put in the back seat when I needed her bench for the placement of the last three plastic tubs.  Whew.  We're in and we're off.

First stop was at the office where we had to check out and check mail one last time.  It seems we were to read our meter (?) and tell them what it said.  So, I waited while somebody ran out to get the reading.  Then it seemed an interminable length of time for her to figure out how much was used, compute the cost for February....nothing moves fast in Texas.  The cost was higher than in January with fewer days but we were so ready to leave I agreed to just pay it so we could be gone!

Second stop was to return the cable equipment.  This I expected a huge process and it went very efficiently.  That was a pleasant surprise and we were finally on the road.  Stopped to gas up the car and later at a Burger King to gas up us and smooth sailing from here on.

Then we came to the road block on the highway where everyone had to exit and go through a border patrol customs check even though we were no where near a border.  We watched as the dogs were sniffing cars and trucks, cameras were filming into the car at every possible angle and saw some agents crawling underneath a pickup truck.  Yikes.  But when they got to the two old farts hauling a camper from Wisconsin they just asked if we were both US citizens and waved us on.  I guess we don't fit any kind of exciting profile anymore.

We drove northward and took in the beauty of the early budding trees and lots of wild flowers bursting forth in the ditches and road sides.  But what we really enjoyed was the majesty of the large hawks and eagles that seemed to be everywhere - sitting on top of the telephone poles, soaring, diving....

An eagle dove down into the median right in front of us and picked up some lunch.  The expression on the rabbits face showed that he was as shocked as we were...well, he may have been more concerned as I believe he was that night's dinner guest.  Yes, we were close enough to see the expression!

The eagle seemed to hover in front of our rapidly approaching windshield and was calculating it's lift, the heavy load, the speed of the vehicle.  He computed this very fast and made the decision that he needed to get higher quick to avoid becoming a hood ornament on our he dropped the bunny.

We braced for impact but given our speed and skill of the eagles toss, he cleared our windshield and van.  It may have splatted on the canned ham, not sure, didn't hear anything...but then again the adrenaline was pumping too fast in my head to hear much of anything.  The eagle cleared and I could envision him swooping back later after the cars behind us probably prepared the rabbit into pancakes for supper.

As the magic hour of 5:00 approached we pulled off to find a place for the night.  Having winterized the canned ham, we need motels at this point and finding those that will accept She Devil can be difficult.  But after being turned away by one "no pets" policy we landed and even had a small Mexican fast food place within walking distance.

A little tuna for her and a few tacos for us and we were good for the night!

Long Live the Queen of Flying Rabbits

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Learning my limits

It was one of those restless days - too confined in a small space, too gray, too windy, too rainy, too....blah.  I had to get out and away for a while.  Left Brain was off playing golf and I had the car for my personal use, so I left.

First I revisited some of the RV dealers we had been to to re-look at some of the motorhomes now that it seems we have zeroed in on this as our choice of rig.  I've gotten good at being able to identify almost immediately whether or not which ones I could live in and which I can't, but now I wanted to see them with a different eye.  Where would my fabric stash and art supplies go?

Bag I made for the megillah at synagogue
Being forced to pare down on my clothes and things in general isn't that big a deal for me, I've been leaning that way the last couple of years already with the need to reduce clutter.  But my fabric!  Now we're on sacred ground here...this needs to be dealt with carefully.
You need a significant stash to do the crazy quilt kinds of things I really enjoy, like this project I did for the synagogue some years back.

As I'd go through each kitchen I could visualize where my pressure cooker and favorite toys would be stored, where the dishes would go, where the printer could set, finding a location for the dreaded litter box, etc.  

But there just didn't seem to be enough space for my art supplies, not to mention my show set up.  And believe me, I've worked hard to get my show set up down to a minimum as it is and have invested good money in new supplies to make it happen.

Custom tote bag using the watercolor
painting of Rosemary Guttormsen
After leaving the dealers lots with brochures of rigs I liked so I could recall the floor plans, I settled in for a little lunch while I read brochures and favorite activities.

Then, I don't know why, I had an intense desire (dare I say obsession?) to find a book store.  The closest Barnes & Noble was over 35 miles away and I just didn't feel like driving that far.  So I happened upon a CVS (there's one every few blocks) and went in hoping they had a small book and magazine section.

This one is small and will go with me
Hooray!  They did! Not that I was going to find any Art Doll Quarterly or Sunshine Artists magazines, or even any Photoshop ones, but they did have some.  I perused these like someone stranded on a desert island studying a water cooler.  It felt so normal.  And then I started to make my choices.

The first one I picked up was a gardening magazine and as I flipped through the pages I recalled that I will no longer have my own garden and reverently put it back.  Sigh.  

I just love making tote bags!
Then I picked up some kind of Martha Stewart looking thing and oohed and aaahed over the bold color combinations and cute furniture and remembered that soon I would be living in the world of built ins and a motorhome where everything comes as it is.  You can swap some stuff out, but because it needs to be secured structurally into the slide outs and be bolted down, this isn't as easy as in a house.  This too was put Add captionback.

Cooking magazines - nah, I have a stash of those I need to get rid of soon as it is, no sense buying another.  Then the enormity of what I'm leaving really hit me and I had a moment of "what the hell have I done?"

It was the simplicity of the quilt design on the Simply Quilts magazine that pulled me in.  I haven't bought a quilt magazine forever and have several books and magazines I need to part with soon as it is.  But this one was perfect!  Each article and pattern provided (except two) were things I could see myself making someday....somewhere....somehow.  Well, I had to have something from the magazine section.  I had to have something that promised creativity again when I returned home, so I bought it.

This is a panel I bought while in Alaska and did the quilting.  It may travel with as it is nonbreakable, soft, lightweight and well, handmade.  It is a reminder of how I should be living my new life - we could all learn from cats.

This reaffirmed in my mind what I can let go of and what I cannot.  Thankfully I am married to an understanding man who gets it.  So, I told him my story and that I cannot, I will not give up my sewing stuff and creativity - it's like breathing.

He reassured me (for the 109th time) that I could have as much space as I needed in the motorhome for all my stuff so I can keep sewing and creating on the road in my new life.  When I informed him he has no idea how much stuff I have, he just smiled and said 'oh yes he did'.  He's seen my little shop of horrors and knows what kind of space it takes. 

So, I told him I wanted the full crew cab pick up truck with a locking sliding topper on it as I will probably have to store tubs of fabrics and stuff in the bed of the truck in addition to under the motorhome.  And he's okay with it.

Am I a lucky woman or what?

Long Live the Queen and Left Brain

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Wind Won.

Whoosh, whoosh, whip whip whip.  I finally shut the door and windows...not because it was too cold but I couldn't bear to hear the wind attempting to rip the cabana off the canned ham anymore.  I fully understand now those stories of pioneers going insane on the prairies with the relentless blowing of the wind.

While I was scooting my bootie at line dance, Left Brain was doing the laundry.  He's such a mensch.  I caught up with him at the tail end of the chore and met a nice lady who has been full-timing for four years now.  It was so much fun chatting with her and learning how they had done things.

When we returned to the canned ham the wind was howling worse than ever and the cabana was starting some sort of St Vitus Dance of the Damned.  So, we started to disassemble the cabana and as the first few drops of rain fell we tossed it into the back of the van until we would be able to fold and place it back into it's little bag.  Whew.  No damage, no poles broken.

Then as the skies turned grayer and the sprinkles began to hit the top of the metal roof we checked the web for which movie we might be able to see today.  As luck would have it, Act of Valor had just opened and it's one Left Brain wanted to see, so we opted for a popcorn lunch and movie.

Intense doesn't begin to describe this movie, which was very well done, but I was left wondering if one can get PTSD from watching all the blood and fighting.  The theme of the movie also brought into play the viciousness of the drug cartels in Mexico.  I'm glad we'd already went into Mexico when we did because after the presentation from the Border Patrol and then this movie I wouldn't walk over there for love or money.

Then we returned to the canned ham, which looks positively naked without the cabana.  The afternoon was spent with me checking out anything I could find about living in the RV and he watched golf on TV.

Long Live the Queen of the Wind

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The eagles are raising another family

We have two eggs in the nest now, so I have loaded the link for the live web cam to watch them as this new family comes into the world.

Live video for mobile from Ustream

Long Live the Queen of Eagles

Now it really feels real

Left Brain called Ken Wastlund from Gerard Hoeschler to start the process of selling the house.  This was in the late morning.  By later that afternoon he had already been there to do a walk through so he could advise us what needed to be done to prepare it for sale and started to set up a listing.  Yikes!  Now it is really REAL.  He works fast and is good, so we're hoping we can accomplish our goal sometime this summer.

Bloodroot are one of the first spring flowers to pop up.
This spring will be so different from all the previous ones as I won't be digging up and starting new garden beds, I'll actually have to restrain myself and just clean up and work with the existing ones.  Not as much fun, but....    Of course, this doesn't mean I can't still go plant shopping!  I will want to plan many annuals as early as possible so the yard looks super spiffy (if that's even possible) to attract those buyers.  So yes Marti - we will still need to do shopping, just a little different than before.

Long Live the Queen of Spring Planting

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sightseeing Wednesday

Even the turtles (this one is stuffed) celebrate Mardi Gras!
Wednesday is our "down day" as he doesn't golf and I don't have line dance...oh what a wild schedule we two oldsters have!  So, we tend to get out and about on Wednesdays.

Today we revisited South Padre Island, an area we both enjoy for it's sun and sand and good food.  We started at the Sea Turtle Sanctuary and learned so much from the wonderfully informative presentation given by the man in this photo.  The dog is a red healer that he found in the woods as a puppy and rescued him.  Since that time he has been trained in search and rescue and has found two little girls (alive, thank goodness) and one body.  Then he was trained to find sea turtle nests.  He has been credited for finding many nests, which is vital to protect the eggs from poachers and other wildlife.  

Vacationers who find them on the beach are encouraged to call 911 who then calls them.  Those finding the turtle are invited in to view the triage for their rescue and have the honor of naming them, which leads to some pretty cool names.  I particularly liked this one as the turtle does seem to resemble Rodney a bit.  Sorry Rodney, you get no respect!

Up close and personal with one
They rescue many sea turtles that wash up on shore and 85% of them are rehabilitated and sent back into the wild.  Only those not able to return are released to zoos and other places where they can live out their lives in comfort and provide an educational opportunity for many.  I wish the photos were better, but they were under tarps as the weather isn't warm enough for them, so due to lack of light and shooting through water the photos are pretty bad.

There's many interesting photos and videos as well as a live turtle cam at

Then we went back to Pier 19 to have lunch and I got to enjoy my last meal of shrimp habenero.  Colleen...I must learn how to make mango sauce/salsa.  It's wonderful in this dish!

On the way home I had Left Brain take me to the mall for one last round with my favorite Chinese therapist.  I treated myself to 30 minutes this time instead of my usual 10 or 15.  He speaks no English, I speak no Chinese, but he understands Visa and I know a good therapist when I find one.

So, tonight I fixed penne pasta with yellow squash, zucchini, onions  diced tomatoes with chilies and turkey sausage crumbles (Jimmy Dean - they are spicy and great) for supper.  Bit by bit we're using up the last of our food supplies and will run the pantry bare before leaving.  I love this because it guarantees we'll be eating out over the weekend.

We want to start out a little earlier than planned so we can camp a couple of more nights on the way up to savor every last possible night in our little canned ham.

Long Live the Queen of the Sea Turtles

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Quiet days

My pink peony tree will be missed when we're gone
My day started earlier than normal today due to a malfunction in my alarm cat.  The sun has started to come up earlier, which whips her into a frenzy trying to herd all her humans up and at 'em.  There's tuna to be opened!  Shots to be had!  She is quite persistent on staying on schedule as she wants to be sure to get all those naps in.

Bowl of Cherries campanula
Why she lets Left Brain sleep an hour or two longer than me, I'm not sure, but as soon as he moves or yawns she knows it's time to get him moving also.  I really believe she wants to get us up and out on our day so she can have the camper to herself for a nice long nap.

After my line dancing class I returned to the canned ham where we feasted on left over pumpkin spice pancakes from earlier this week topped off with fresh blueberries.  Yum.  Left Brain enjoys breakfast and I'm only good for cereal first thing in the morning, so we've fallen into a rhythm of having a late breakfast for our lunch. 

The wind has died down to a reasonable level again, and the air is wet and humid.  But it is warm and the sun is shining and we've nowhere to be and nothing to all is well.

After following several different You Tube videos I finally completed two knit dish rags.  More skills to teach my grandkiddies when I return.

Well, I need to go sit outside in the breeze now and read for a while.  Our oldest granddaughter has us reading the Peter Pan series.  Not actually Peter Pan, but the back story to it.  It starts with Peter and the Star Catchers, which we have both finished.  Now we're on the second one.  Thank you Em- good choice!

Ta ta!

Long Live the Lazy Slob...I mean Queen

Monday, February 20, 2012

Living Green on the Go

Being an activist for environment and living in a motorhome or other type of RV may seem like a contradiction, but it's really not.  The RV life has one of the smallest carbon footprints. 

One of my first misgivings about opting for this way of life was what seemed to be an excess.  Our little canned ham is certificate green and due to it's small size I wasn't feeling too guilty.  Then we decided to full time and started looking at larger rigs and my guilt-o-dometer went way up.  Unlike one of the Escapee's members we met recently who will be fulltiming in their 16' Casita, we decided we needed a bit more room than our R-pod allows.

We recently joined Escapee's, a membership of people who enjoy the RV lifestyle and in the most recent magazine there was an article by Ken Neveu (member #73983) who pointed out the following.

As he points out, yes we get less than 10 miles to the gallon of gas when traveling to the next campsite, but we are not commuting back and forth to work.  In my prior life I had a 35 mile one way commute and many who life in heavily populated areas the cars are idling in "rush hour" traffic and burning gas without moving at all.

As Kent points out, we move from spot to spot but then park there for a lengthy time and put about 6,000 to 7,000 miles per year on our motorhome and around 10,000 miles or less on the towed vehicle.  

Off the road, we live in a much smaller living space than even some of the tiniest homes, meaning we heat and cool much less living space than many others, especially the McMansions that the younger people seem to be buying these days.

But wait...there's more!  Many Rvers have solar panels and are often off the electrical grid altogether.  RVers were among the first in this country to use LED lights to replace incandescent and florescent bulbs.  We use much less water than homeowners and have no lawn care mowing, fertilizing, weed killers or watering required.  And when you figure "garbage in - garbage out" we leave behind much less sewage and trash.  Most of the parks we stay in have recycling and most RVers are very ecology minded people or we wouldn't want to spend our lives living in parks and forests.

And while it looks like a decadent lifestyle as you see our AC and satellite dishes, we seldom use the AC as we prefer being outdoors and enjoying the natural air and that satellite dish is so we can stay connected to our families and the world as we wander.

So, with that thought in mind...we're going to go for a walk now and see if our weekly mail delivery has arrived. Yup, once a week might even be too much, maybe every other week would be better.

It is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate.

Long Live the Green Queen

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The five year plan

I'll miss sitting in my arbor
After we sell the house, R-pod, van and most everything else, we'll decide on a rig and begin our new life.  This will bring many new experiences our way.  At the moment we are leaning towards a motorhome pulling a small pickup truck with the motorcycle on it.  But this changes daily...sometimes hourly.

First of all, I'm really going to miss having my family, friends and neighbors close by.  That's the worst part. I have some great girl friends and enjoy lunches, movies and just talking with them, not to mention the plant shopping with Miss M.   We hope to alleviate this by spending the summer months back in our old stomping grounds so I can reconnect with them, as well as using social media to keep in touch.  We plan to spend a month or two in the area where the grandchildren are to be able to see them even more than we would have before.  If all goes well we'll spend such concentrated time with all of them they'll be glad to see us go.  Come to think about it, so far no one has begged us to please stay.  Hmmm.

Zelda will have to be sold, she's too large to travel with us on the road
Secondly, we're not used to having to pay a monthly fee to live anywhere.  That's going to be weird and I'm working this into the budget for the new life.  Ouch...budget.  That will really be different since Left Brain won't be making the extra money that I'm accustomed to spending.  I may have to really think about doing some shows more seriously to earn some extra cash.

Third is the laundry issue.  We don't want to add the weight and give up any space for a washer/dryer combo in the rig, so carrying laundry out will become our new standard.  Left Brain treated me to a day off recently to clean the canned ham while he took the laundry over and dealt with it.  It felt so good to get a grip on things again, sorting stuff out and putting everything back where it belongs.  Not to mention the thrill of clean undies!  We are definitely embarking on a simpler lifestyle here.

Fourth will be the constant moving.  I've been in the same area most my life and know my way around... finally.  The places we enjoy the most (state parks, etc) will only let you stay for two weeks.  Private parks allow you to stay longer and have better rates if you commit to the entire season.  It will be a little gypsy-like to be moving all the time.  Not that we'll necessarily be traveling all that far each time, but just the packing up and going part of it.

One of my favorite spots on the deck
There's a bittersweet quality to all of this.  The excitement of the unknown and the fear of where to go if something bad happens.  I've always loved the pioneer spirit, so this is my chance to travel into the great unknown....okay, with a GPS, AC and VISA card.  That's as close to the pioneer life as I want to get at this stage of life.

Long Live the Queen of the Road

 You have to let go of the life you have planned to have the life that is waiting for you.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Focusing on what you HAVE, not what you don't

I found this link in an RV forum and it told about a family that sold their 2000 square foot home for one that was 320 square feet.  Mortgage free and living the simple life.  

It's amazing to me how homey she has made this feel and I especially loved the "guest bed" made out of the couch.  It just shows what creativity can do and how little you really need to get by on.

Left Brain and I are really getting into this minimalist approach to our new life and looking forward to our major downsizing in our life.

Here's the video clip - enjoy and be inspired!

Long Live the Queen of Small Spaces

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rain rain rain

After a long rainy muddy spell the weather finally was looking up.  The sun was out, the skies were blue, it hit 80 degrees. was good.  Finally Left Brain would be able to get out to the golf course again, allowing me a complete morning to do as I please...all alone.  Well, me and She Devil.  She's always here and the rain seems to be getting her down as well.  She 's been very mopey,  laying her head on the keyboard or my mouse, pretty much anything to get in the way and share the stickiness of her fur.  Sigh.

I woke this morning to lightening and knew the rain was returning just in time to foil another attempt for the guys to go golfing.  Sigh.

Yesterday we met with some Escapees members at an Italian restaurant.  I don't know which was more thrilling to me...visiting with like minded people or seeing a menu that did not have tacos as an entree.

After our outing we visited yet more RV places to look at motorhomes and toy haulers.  The toy haulers are the coolest things.  Picture a small fifth wheel with a bed over the cab, a kitchen and dining area and then a small garage behind a patio door.  The platform for the queen bed is on a motorized track that raises to the ceiling to allow space for hauling the "toys".

I couldn't stop imaging the fun I could have with that feature alone!  Just think how surprised the grandkids would be waking up and finding themselves touching the ceiling...that would be such fun!  Actually I'd love to just have the platform with no bed and use it to store all my craft stuff up high - kind of like having my own attic but with no steps to climb.  Then I could lower it and set up my sweat shop and create my weird little creatures.

One of the new line of dolls will be gypsies. I'm hoping to put one of these in every window of each RV in the park.  I could do basic gypsies or make caricatures to match the inhabitants of the RV.  I think I purchased one of Arley Berryhill's gypsy wagon patterns a long time ago - I need to find that and tackle that sucker.  Those would be fun also.  I've always been fascinated with gypsies ever since I was a child.

My father had a gas station and had allowed (to my mother's horror) a group of gypsies to set up in the yard behind the station.  Oh the rumors that flew!  He was warned that they would steal him blind and kidnap the children.  THAT got my interest!  Would it really be possible to be kidnapped and taken into a band of gypsies?  I was in!  But try as I might - nobody wanted to steal a scrawny little kid wishing for a more exotic family.  Oh well.

So, I'm settling in for another rainy day of RV dreaming and scheming, making more lists and plans for when I get back, more reading of the Kindle and perhaps a visit to Walmart for more supplies.  It's not a bad life.

Long Live the Queen of Storm Clouds

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More options for the new rig

Left Brain and I were talking about our new life and what would make the perfect rig for us...again.  I know, it's all we seem to talk about lately, but it is a big decision and it's easier to discuss it while we're south and have less distractions.

Having to make do with one car could be difficult and we keep trying to find some way to bring his motorcycle with us.  We've been doing well with one car, but this is short term and right now everything we do is together.  When back in our "home" area that will change if he continues to work, spend time with the grandkids  and I want to see friends.

So, some new ideas are to either get a fifth wheel toy hauler which would give us one pick up truck and what ever we hauled in the back, probably his motorcycle or a very small car, maybe both?  The other option is to get a motorhome and pull a small pickup truck with the motorcycle in its bed, which would give us both a vehicle once we've landed also.

Tomorrow we are meeting a group of local Escapee's at a lunch nearby and plan to revisit some RV dealers to look at the toy haulers and motorhomes again.  Toy haulers are basically the fifth wheel but in the back portion it's like a garage.  Some have queen sized beds that can lower, or bunks that fold up against the wall.  I like this option as that space would make a lovely "sweat shop" for my sewing on the road after the vehicles are moved out.

So many options!  So little money!

Long Live the Confused Queen of the Road

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New skills learned on the road

There are many activities here in the RV park and in addition to the line dancing I have brushed up on my crocheting skills.  I've done this before, but it has been many years and now with it rainy and cold it feels good to work with yarn again.  I'm hoping to learn some knitting techniques later also.  My goal is to relearn these and then teach my granddaughters.

My first project, as well as second and third, are the dishrags that are crocheted from cotton yarn.  They are very durable and soft and we will need these in our new life since there are no dishwashers in any RV we'll be buying.

Being a storyteller it just seems natural to spin a yarn.

Long Live the Queen of the Fiber Arts

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jigsaw puzzles on line

Thank you to Miss Edna for introducing me to this new way to do jigsaw puzzles.  No more lost pieces or having to pick it all up when I need the table.  Perfect way to do them for me.

Here's a pretty one of a water lily.  Give it a try.  Just click on the arrow within the puzzle to break it apart and then drag the pieces back into alignment.

Click to Mix and Solve

Long Live the Puzzled Queen

The decisions continue

We keep working over which way to go in our new life - a fifth wheel and a truck or a motor home towing a smaller car.

Both have advantages and disadvantages.  The decision will no doubt be made after we sell the house  and actually have the money to make the next move.  Yeah, we're that kind of people.  We have always believed in having the money first before spending it.

I'm leaning towards a fifth wheel and a heavy duty truck.  The advantages of a fifth wheel is the abundant storage space and it looks and feels more like a residential home.  The bedroom is generally in the part that rides over the pick up truck and most have large wardrobes, dressers and a queen sized bed, sometimes a king sized bed.  There's a good deal of storage underneath also for those guy type of things.  My favorite part is that the kitchens are quite large and there is usually an entertainment area with flat screen TV, radio and a fireplace.  Yup.  A fireplace in an RV.  Sounds weird, but those that have them say they are lovely for taking off the chill in the morning without having to run the furnace. Many of them also have ceiling fans which help in the warm weather to keep the air moving quietly.

Another plus is that they are easy to drive (so I've read but have  never actually driven one) as they can turn very sharp to put into their parking spots.  With lights and a mirror the hitching up can be a one person job.  They usually have a large window on the back which is often your best view if you can get into a state or county park or national forest.  They are known for holding their value better than a  motor home as there is no motor to maintain.

The drawbacks are that you have to leave the truck to get in and out of the fifth wheel, so if it's pouring rain when you arrive you're going to get soaked running from the truck to the rig.  Not a big deal in my mind.  There's limited space in the truck for transporting people and pets as it's illegal to ride in a trailer.  Another drawback is that when you've arrived now you have this big honking truck to run around in to get groceries and the like.

The advantages to a motor home are obvious - you buy it and you're done.  You don't have to pick out a rig and then spend another $50k on a truck.  More advantages are that you can carry your family and pets with you in the rig during the journey rather than crammed into the cab of a truck and if you arrive in a storm you don't have to get out to unhook the car right away.  It can wait until later.  This part appeals to me as a safety concern since we will no doubt be boon docking a fair amount to save some money.  It feels safer to me to be able to turn the key and just leave if something or someone is spooking me.  If you felt uneasy in a fifth wheel you'd have to exit the rig to get into the truck.  Another advantage to a motor home is the view while you travel.  You are sitting up much higher and have huge windows to look out of.  The car you tow behind it is could be a small, fuel efficient car...perhaps a sporty little convertible is in my future?

The downside to the motor home is that it's well, a motor home.  When you are done driving you're still in the same rig and much of the space is lost in the front of the cab where the two front seats are.  Although, She Devil is casting her vote for the motor home for that very reason - it's a great spot to park the litter box and the huge flat dash is every kitty's dream spot.

The living space in a motor home doesn't seem as large as in the fifth wheel, the kitchen's are usually pretty dinky and there's not much storage space inside the rig.  Now underneath it, there's much more. But, I'd rather have my usable storage up where I'm living.  While in the canned ham I've had a good deal of practice digging things out of the back of the van or from the cabana due to lack of space inside the rig.

I have no way which type of rig we'll end up with, I guess either one is fine.  After doing nothing but researching this for the last month or so all I know is that I must have adequate storage and a decent kitchen. Beyond that I'm pretty flexible.  It will be lovely to have a door to the bedroom and a choice of more than one seat to sit in.

Long Live the Confused Queen of Too Many Choices

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Finally! The secret to finding the good places to eat is revealed!

We've noticed a correlation between good places to eat and the difficulty in finding them.  

It seems that the best places are low profile and actually sometimes a little nasty looking on the outside.

Without the help of Mike drawing a map for me, we would have never found this place.  It's just a small building, no name anywhere to indicate what it even is.  He just said to "look for the cars".  

We arrived about 11:30 and had a 45 minute wait for our one burger and onion rings.  The sizes are so huge that we were advised to split one & that was very good advice.  

Their hours are posted as 10:45 to 2:45 and when they run out of meat they simply close down.  

They are open on holidays, but never on a Sunday.

It all started as a little family grocery store until one day the mother offered to make a burger for a young man who came in every day for potato chips and a soda.  Soon word of the fabulous burgers started to get out and the grocery store became a burger joint.  

They have maintained a small "grocery" shelf in one corner to remind them where it all began in a tribute to their mother.

It reminded me of the small neighborhood bar where my grandmother used to cook burgers on Saturday nights.  It has the old fashioned grill that is probably never really cleaned off and what no doubt adds to the good greasy taste of the burgers.
There is one small unisex bathroom that has a constant line.  There is no waitress or bus boy.  You place your order at the counter and take a number and wait.  When you leave you clean up your area and remove your trash.  There are no plates.  You work off the waxed paper around the burger and paper towels on the tables.

It was crowded, the burgers a bit greasy (the way they should be)  and it was a little taste of heaven for us.

Long Live the Queen of the Burgers

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Good eating down south

Left Brain and I headed out to eat lunch on Friday, mainly because it was just too depressing to sit stuffed inside the soggy canned ham for another day.  The car seats are almost dry now, so it's usable without the trash bag and beach towel again.

We ate at a little place called Las Vegas, I wasn't sure where the restaurant was, there wasn't any overly large sign and the building was nondescript.  But the parking lot was full and we need to put in our name for a table and wait.  And it was worth the wait!

I had the Lady's Plate special and he had the Gentlemen's Plate special, even though I'm certainly no lady!  It was to die for.  As my friend Beth would understand - it was "song worthy" and it was all I could do not to burst into singing "Oh sweet mystery of love at last I've found you".  We will definitely be going back there...soon if it keeps raining.

Long Live the Queen of Good Eats

Friday, February 10, 2012

More RV options

This little number has it all!
Yeah, the search continues.  I've also started to check out other parks in the south...Florida, Texas, Arizona, etc for our warm weather get- away.  One thing that is important is to have a nice swimming pool to get away from the heat. 

This one was quite lovely.

I liked the roomy bedroom, great storage and the ability to bring the boat along on the trip.

And this one was reminiscent of the old style prairie sod huts.  It would certainly be cool, but didn't appear to get good mileage.

But I bet it's nice and cool in the summer time.

It's so hard to pick one!  

We do have a lead on one back home that I'm hoping hasn't sold by the time we get there.  Great size and price, it looks like it would be everything we need.  Especially after living in a tiny enclosure for two would seem huge.

Long Live the Queen of RV Searching

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rainy days in Texas

I like this one - I can picture me as a gypsy dancing around the fire.
I was so very wrong - it can rain in Texas and it after day after day.  Can one's very spirit get soggy?  The cheerios are stale from the humidity, there's no place to go...wah, wah, wah.

Oh the weather outside is gloomy...
And the ham is none too roomy....
and since there's no place to go....
I think I will go see a show....

Then I went outside and found that Left Brain had left both the front windows down.  So,with two beach towels and a trash bag for cushion from the soaking wet seat, off I went. 

We have been to more movies in a month together than we have in all our 27 years together.  I'm so used to going with alone or with my seems odd to have Left Brain with me.  As a consequence I'm watching far more spy thrillers and the like than fluffy chick flicks.  I miss my chick flicks and comedies.

If the rain continues, we could get this RV houseboat
It would have been lovely to attend the big RV show in Houston but it would require a six hour drive one way to get there, necessitating an overnight stay.  This is not possible with She Devil alone here needing her meds and we really didn't feel like dragging her with, so we agreed to skip this.  

Unfortunately it seems ALL the RV shows in the nation are held this coming weekend - which is too early for us.  There was a nice big show here earlier, but we had not yet made the decision to go full time and therefore didn't analyze them the way we would have now.

Perhaps we could live in an RV condominium?
Oh well.  We managed to duck one of the storms and get to another local RV dealer out here.  I was almost afraid to after our last visit to one.  It was greasy, smelly and the salesman looked like Willie Nelson. We did see some lovely models and when I googled to see what dealers  were back home, lo and behold our favorite spot in West Salem - Coulee Region RV popped up.  I've been communicating with them on several models that they have on sale during their open house....this coming weekend of course.

Our dilemma is twofold.  We would like as short a rig as possible to make it fit better into State Parks which we enjoy, but provide enough living room to be in full time.  We've learned we really don't need a huge area.  It would be just lovely to have more than one choice for sitting down.  In any of the larger rigs we could opt for a kitchen chair, a recliner or a couch - wow!

Our choices keep jumping all over the place from tiny ones to live in for a short period of time and then upgrade to a larger one, or jump right in for a larger one to start with.  Too many choices!  I finally sat down last night and made a list of my dream RV versus what I could accept and must have.  That helped to calm me down a bit, but it was still not a restful night.

So, the search continues for the perfect new home.  Provided we can sell the old home to pay for it.  Timing is everything!

Long Live the Queen of RV Dreaming

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Photoshop Elements tutorials

One of my biggest problems is in managing my photos.  Too many photos on the hard drive - not enough that merit being there at all.

So, I have been deleting photos like crazy...absolutely ruthless.

Then I started doing some of the YouTube videos that show how to use some of the newer tools in Elements 10.

There is a tool to help you catalog and repair your files.  You can search for duplicate photos also.  That was really helpful, to have them brought up so one or both could be destroyed.

Another method is to assign a star rating of one to five stars to your photos.  Then when you are looking for your very best ones, you can find them easily.  I'm figuring those that are only one or two stars probably shouldn't be there at all, but I just couldn't cut them out of the herd just yet.  But I can locate them easily the next time I feel like purging more photos to clear up some space.

Long Live the Queen of Tutorials

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

To my grandchildren

Hey guys!  Today's blog is all around you.

First let me thank you for being the coolest grand daughters any one could ever dream of having.  Our biggest concern in choosing our new adventure was in not being able to see you as much as we would like. This was a very hard decision for us.

But, now that you are old enough to communicate with us in writing, we hope that our adventures will be a learning tool for you as we explore new areas and write to tell you about them.

You have taught us so much!  Sometimes when people get older they forget how to see things through the eyes of a child and experience the wonder of everyday life.  You brought that back to us.  You made us laugh and giggle and enjoy the silliness of things.  Okay, I've always been more that way...but you've done an amazing job with Grandpa!

Even though we won't be with you in person as much as before, I'm hoping we can kick up our closeness even more on the road.  I'm hoping for letters (translation:  emails) telling us what you've done, what you're thinking, what you're reading...that kind of thing.

We won't grade you on your spelling...if anything, I expect to learn some new vocabulary from you that WE have to look up.  And I'll try to slip in some new words for you too.  I will be traveling with a thesaurus!

This way you will be with us on the road as you travel along in our hearts and our minds.  It will just be so much harder for you to get on my last very last one.  You'll have to work at that!

Then there's that beauty of your becoming old enough to travel without your parents and perhaps they would fly you down to visit us.  We'll make sure to be parked somewhere fun for you to see.  You tell us where you want to go, we'll set up camp and wait for you to arrive.  Okay, the parents can come too if they must.  But it's really YOU guys we want....but don't tell them that, it might hurt their feelings.

There will be much more room in the new canned ham - it will be  super-sized.  Well, anything has to be larger than this.  Most of the layouts we've looked into have a couch that makes into a bed with an air mattress.  Or we can always set you up on air mattresses further apart from each other if you're not getting along.  Who wants to sleep in the cargo bay?

We're not sure how much longer She Devil will be able to travel with us, we think this might be her last big trip...but who knows.  She's one mean cat and might live on forever!  But we promise you that when she's gone and we're ready again to love another animal, the next kitties (yes, two of them) will be friendly, cuddly and nice.  It is possible.  You can't judge everything by She Devil.

We can't wait to share the adventures of the open road with you!

Grandpa and Bubbe

Monday, February 6, 2012

I can see clearly now...

While doing laundry the other day I heard two women discussing a friend who had went full time.  I heard all the same things I myself had uttered not that long ago.

They talked about how they could never leave their friends, their community, their houses and possessions.  I smiled to myself and thought back to my own arguments with Left Brain as to why I could never, ever live on the road full time.

When did things change?  What made me suddenly feel held captive by the house, gardens and all those "things" I've collected?  I can't wait to start listing stuff for sale and getting it out of there!

I remember some of my friends who I thought had such a spartan lifestyle, not a lot of decorations or things to look at, and feeling pity for them.  Now I get it.  I love having a counter top that is clear and clean.  Okay, perhaps just a couple of things or maybe some fresh cut flowers to enjoy, but not crammed with stuff.  I find with less "things" around me I breathe easier, I feel more relaxed.  When did this happen?

I used to love having things every where!  On the walls, hanging from ceiling, one the table tops...your eye was constantly searching and trying to take it in. People visiting my house would comment that there was so much to see.  Now I embrace doing nothing and can sit and look at what's going on around me without feeling I need to jump up and DO something.  Sometimes just being is doing enough. 

Sure, I have my favorite little things.  I'm not sure what makes them special - many of them aren't from anybody or any place special.  They aren't expensive or precious.  But they make me smile.  These I will take with least at first.  Perhaps I will display one at one place and then change it out for something else later.  I can still enjoy each and every one of them - just not all at the same time.

I think part of this change is that in the past I was trying to block out so many childhood that I wished was different, my feelings of inadequacy, the pain of earlier traumatic events.  Now I'm able to sit with these as if sitting down with an old friend and being able to understand they why of it.  Now I'm ready to accept it, acknowledge that it was what it was and let it go.  Not try to forget it, or stuff it down deep...or clutter it with "things" to distract myself.  But breathing deeply and just accepting it...being one with it...and knowing it's okay.  It was always okay, I just wasn't ready to see it.

Some of the clutter of my past was like heaping one band aid on top of another to cover the wound, but never allowing the injury to breath and heal over on its own.  As if I could smother it with my possessions and overwhelm it with minutia.  Now I'm able to stand alone with it, it can't hurt me any more.  The battle is over and the armor has been removed and cast away.

It's time to re-invent myself once again for these final chapters of my life.  I get to decide who I want to be when I grow up.  I can choose which characteristics are key to my being and let the false bravado and sham of toughness melt away.  I can just

I would like to take this time to thank those who have always believed in me, even when I couldn't, and have stood by me as I've struggled with life.  I'm not going to name names here, you know who you are.  I am not leaving you...I could never truly leave you, you will always be a part of me where ever I might be.

I'll just be someplace warmer.

Long Live the Queen of Fair Weather Friends

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Decisions decisions

Our cat, know her as She Devil in the blog
First of all we want to tribute our cat for making this new dream possible.

Because she is diabetic and arthritic she requires four injections a day, making it hard to leave her for more than a very short period of time.  So, much of the reason for buying the canned ham was to be able to travel and bring her with us.  This caricature art quilt is made in her image and will have to find a way into our new larger rig when the time comes.

One of our first questions was do we buy a motor home like we had in the past, or purchase a fifth wheel, something we've never had?  Both have excellent options.

We tend to be leaning towards the fifth wheel as they depreciate less than a motor home and are supposed to be very easy to pull.  This way we only have to insure it and one vehicle.  The advice we had found was to purchase the fifth wheel first and then find the vehicle needed to pull it.

Our major considerations are in only a few areas and we agree on them....which is remarkable...I mean great.  I am insisting on a well appointed kitchen with a microwave convection oven and a standard oven below, dual sinks (preferably one much larger than the other), as much counter space as possible and excellent storage capacity.  These seem to be almost standard in rigs we've looked in in person and online.  Whew.  One of the rigs we're considering has an outdoor kitchen that would be a very nice feature since we cook outside a lot due to the heat.  But that would not be a deal breaker for either of us.

My second concern is the bedroom having a king size bed so we can use our sleep number mattress on it.  This eliminates the bouncing that one partner feels (that would be Left Brain) when the other (that would be me) tosses and turns and does nighttime gymnastics.  It also helps to keep the body cooler which we both like, especially since we will tend to be in warm weather areas.  There needs to be adequate storage in the bedroom for clothes, linens and junk.  Left Brain wants a TV in there, something I've fought for years, but am ready to embrace the concept....especially when he said he could watch football in there.

We both like the living room areas where the TV is view-able from both the chairs and the couch.  It's amazing to me how many arrangements are set up that look pretty, but no one really has a good view of the TV.  Due to the smaller size of the rig in general it would also be seen from the table and chairs as well as the kitchen, which is a plus. Sorry to say this is a big part of our lives, but there you are.

The bathroom is an easy choice for us, we're both in favor of having one.  I enjoy a nice hot tub bath, but after being spoiled by the hot tub nothing is going to be adequate for me anymore in that area.  We usually shower and our stall at home is not overly large, so we're used to that.  Add to this the fact that we are living in a tiny rig now  where the toilet is in the shower and we're used to stepping on a wet floor sometimes and occasionally bumping the faucets and spraying ourselves, so just having these separate is good enough for us.  Ample storage for supplies and towels would be nice but we can work around that if necessary.

Storage is in constant demand, so having the biggest amount of under belly storage is important.  This is more or less his domain although I'm going to want some of that space also. Our belief is the more storage space the more junk you carry around that probably isn't needed.  Part of the beauty in this new lifestyle is the paring down of things and living a much simpler life.

Our newest concern is having the rig as heavily insulated and protected from cold as possible with heated storage tanks and the like.  This will allow us to stay longer in the northern areas to enjoy the earlier spring and later fall that we love so much.  Maybe we'll even be able to watch the snow start to flutter down as we laugh and drive away! Oops.  Sorry, that last part was just mean, and I apologize to my northern friends.  

This we learned from our cat walking friends across the street and I thank them for it as we would not have really considered this as much before.  Oh, those Canadians...they don't miss that kind of detail!

Long Live the Queen of the Road

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I barely know myself these days

My lifelong friends are probably certain by now that some alien life force has taken over my body.  But, why they'd want THIS body, I can't begin to guess.

First it was discovering the joy of cooking.  That has had Miss M confused for some time now, but now we swap recipes and pass along cool cooking websites we find.  She would have been so proud of me when I told Left Brain the other day that one of the things our new home must have is an excellent kitchen.  The kitchen is the heart of the house after all.

I love each and every step of it, from the planning and shopping, to the slicing and dicing and prepping of foods to cook.  Now that I'm cooking with gas it has that added thrill of instant flames that shoot up and flare when grease hits it.  Perhaps I've always had these pyromania tendencies...who knew?

While I'm in Texas I've been learning how to line dance and I find myself humming country western songs and have thought about downloading some.  I haven't yet...just to let those back home who might be planning some kind of intervention on my behalf...but it's crossed my mind.

Well, today the dance leader had the most gorgeous pair of cowboy boots and I was overcome with lust.  They reminded me of the pair I had  many years ago while living on the Canadian border raising chickens and breaking horses.  But that's another story for another time.  I could remember the many happy hours rubbing saddle soap into my saddle and boots.  Such a delightful aroma!  And I just know that they would make some great stomping sounds, heel clicks and toe touches during the dance.  Maybe not this trip, but perhaps the next time down.  I understand they wear them even more in Arizona...another area we will begin to visit in the near future.

Now I have more motivation to lose more weight so the tight blue jeans would look good on me with my boots.  I wonder if a hat would be overkill?  It's fun to reinvent ones self.  With life on the open road no one knows you and you can become who ever you wish to be, somewhat of a human chameleon. 

Long Live the Queen of the Boot Scootin Boogie